Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve
Habitats: Upland hardwood forest, mixed pine/hardwood, pine forest, floodplain, wooded pond.
Key birds: Summer: Broad-winged Hawk, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Kentucky and Hooded Warblers. Winter: Brown Creeper. Year-round: Brown-headed Nuthatch.
Best times to bird: Summer.
Description: Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve is managed by the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department. The nature preserve encompasses 727 forested acres with seven hiking trails totaling 5.75 miles. Visitors should remain on the well-marked trails at all times, and enter the park only between dawn and dusk. The hiking trails in the nature preserve are not busy with remote sections often void of individuals.
Directions: Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve is located at 2900 Rocky River Road in eastern Mecklenburg County, 2.5 miles west of the Rocky River Road exit off of Interstate 485 (Exit 36). The entrance is well-marked with signs and there is plenty of parking at several lots within the park. Follow signs to the Nature Center after entering the park.
Birding Highlights: The best birding in the park is usually in the vicinity where the South Fork Trail, Sierra Loop Trail, and the Robinson Rock House Trail all intersect. There is an iron bridge spanning Reedy Creek at this intersection. To pick up trail maps follow the signs to the Nature Center and check the feeding stations at the center. Look for Ruby-throated Hummingbird in summer and Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, and American Goldfinch year-round. Any of the trails through the park should produce summer birds such as Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Ovenbird. Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Scarlet Tanager breed sparingly in these woods. During the migrations the trails are very dependable for Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, and Veery. In the summer at the iron bridge look for Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, White-eyed Vireo, and Acadian Flycatcher. Barred Owl and Pileated Woodpecker occur here year-round. A walk down the Robinson Rock House Trail to the stone ruins might produce Kentucky and Hooded Warblers during the breeding season. In the early morning and at dusk listen for Great Horned Owl year-round and Chuck-will's-widow in the summer. In winter the same trails should have Brown Creeper, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Hermit Thrush. A visit to the fishing lake usually produces Belted Kingfisher anytime and Green Heron in the summer. Yellow-throated Vireo has been found around the lake in the summer.
Before leaving the Park stop at the picnic shelters. The forest here is mainly pine and is very good for Pine Warbler and Brown-headed Nuthatch anytime. Summer Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Eastern Bluebird breed here. In winter Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker can be found.
General Information: The park has picnic shelters, athletic courts and fields, and a fishing lake. A nature center at the preserve has restrooms, vending machines, maps and descriptions of each trail. In addition, it has live animal exhibits, educational materials, a large outdoor bird-feeding station and butterfly garden, and indoor lounge area for viewing the feeding station. The picnic and lake areas can be quite busy on the weekends. The nature center is staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and the staff on duty can provide information on trails, area restaurants, and service stations.
DeLorme map grid: page 57, C7
North Carolina Travel Map grid: F3
For more information: Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department (704) 598-8857; http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Park+and+Rec/About+MCPR/Natural+Resources/Nature+Preserves/Reedy.htm